Originally hailing from the deep south of London I made the jump nearly 3 years ago to explore pastures new and set up a new life with my partner.
Being a transfer skater brings its own set of challenges not least fitting in, making new friends, training hard, adjusting to new tactics. When I started my journey at CCR I had very clear ideas of the skater and team mate I wanted to be but had to balance this passion and drive with the team dynamics and strong relationships already present.
After nearly 3 years at CCR, at the end of March, I stepped out on track with 14 of the strongest and most inspirational women to take on my old league Croydon Roller Derby.
I had a lot of mixed feelings on playing Croydon. They are a team of the girls who introduced me to derby, taught me to skate and a lot of whom are close friends.
Initially there was excitement about having the opportunity to play them, thinking how awesome it would be to see my old friends again, how we could have a good time together at the game. I almost wasn't bothered about the score. I just wanted to have a relaxed game hanging with friends.
Then followed the nerves as the clock ticked closer to bout day. Nerves stemming from thoughts like what would be expected of me from my team in that situation and from them as opponents. This team knew everything about me and my style of play. Would they use it against me? How would I react? Could I perform with my team or would I bottle it and lose my head? The nerves were starting to filter into my training. I was making silly mistakes and making desperate hits landing me more often than not in the penalty box.
I knew I had to focus. I had to get a grip. We had a game to play and it was part of our training for the upcoming SKOD tournament. I knew I had a job to do and I knew that I could only perform that job as part of a team. I knew if I didn’t get a hold of my focus I could end up being more of a liability on track and let the team down. I needed to channel these emotions into a driven and focused performance.
We've incorporated a lot of mental training techniques and preparation into our bout day routines and training at CCR. Techniques like visualisation, mental warm ups, reflection time and positive reinforcement have all been made commonplace in our routines. Being able to tap into these emotions and tame them using the techniques above has helped me to become the best skater I can be on the day.
Working on mental team bonding and building trust in individuals and in the ranks has also helped each skater on the squad understand themselves and their team better. It's enabled us to gain control over our performances and deliver results.
It’s taken quite a lot of time to adjust to these new techniques for me in particular. I never really believed in the methods being proposed instead favouring to believe that you were in the hands of fate and talent on game day. Since using them however I have seen a huge leap in my performance and focus levels. Being able to shut out any emotional noise associated with playing roller derby especially against opponents I admire or are particularly friendly with has proved incredibly valuable.
I would encourage anyone reading this to go and research mental training for sport and read any books and papers you can on the subject. Taking control and responsibility of yourself mentally on game day will open all kinds of doors in your performance on track. Unlock your potential. Train your mind as hard as you train your body and see how far you can go.
Central City Rollergirls